Causes for Intraseasonal Sea Surface Salinity Variability in the Western Tropical Pacific Ocean and Its Seasonality

  • 11 January 2016

Variations in ocean salinity are connected to air-sea interactions, large-scale ocean circulation, and climate phenomena such as the Madden-Julian Oscillation and the El Niño Southern Oscillation.

Understanding the mechanisms behind the variability in western tropical Pacific Ocean sea surface salinity (SSS) can improve understanding and prediction of global-scale weather and climate.

Yuanlong Li and Weiqing Han, in a recent Journal of Geophysical Research paper supported by CVP, explore this variability using simulations in the HYCOM ocean model.

They find that surface forcings by modes such as the MJO are primary drivers in producing regional (SSS) intraseasonal variability (ISV), with internal ocean variability being secondary. The effects of wind stress, precipitation, and wind speed on SSS ISV are explored and found to vary regionally.

The authors conclude that seasonal variations in the amplitude of SSS ISV are more sensitive to the ocean state than to the MJO strength, and this further promotes the importance of improving representation of the ocean background state for improved simulation of SST, SSS, and the MJO.

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